Augmented Reality: The Next Frontier
The last time a dancing piece of food went viral, it was March 2002 and it was a banana singing about Peanut Butter Jelly Time. Today, things are more sophisticated: you can project a dancing hot dog into your room on Snapchat (without the music, thankfully). Besides being addicting to watching these guys gyrate around, the possibilities for AR technology reaches far beyond entertainment value.
The song is in your head now, isn’t it?
Augmented Reality, or computer generated enhancements to the real world around you, is the newest buzzy tech experience. Several brands have dipped their toes into the space with varied results and objectives. If your brand is looking for a more practical usage of AR, look no further than Ikea. Their app has an AR section called Ikea Place where you can put together furniture inside and next to your actual layout – so you can see a 360 degree and holistic view of your interior decoration without having to measure an inch! This can help people make the leap from mobile app browsing to an actual purchase – effectively leading users down the funnel past the intent stage.
And while you may think that this took heavy lifting, they actually built the app with Apple’s ARKit – a toolkit that you can download with iOS11. Ikea has made the leap from offline to purchase potential seamlessly that improves the furniture-buying experience.
We shouldn’t mention iOS11 without mentioning the new Animoji feature on the new iPhone X. When you record a video message with this app, your own facial expressions will be mirrored by an Animoji of your choosing. As you speak, the Animoji mouth will move in sync with you and will have their own individual voice modulators to sound distinct.
iPhone X & iOS 11, Animoji feature
When it comes to in-store retail, AR is still in a highly experimental stage. Brands have already learned that apps like Pokemon Go can drive business, if they’re located close enough to a Pokestop, and they’re ready to take the next step. After all, there are a variety of different ways and platforms through which users can experience AR.
Recently, Toys“R”Us released “Play Chaser” as a unique attempt to try and drive visits to their store. While it’s still early to see if the app itself is a success, Toys R Us is clearly trying to engage shoppers with unique experience making their stores a destination. There will be a lot of eyes on this in the coming days to see if this is the kind of experience which consumers are wanting.
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So far, there have not been many attempts to bridge the divide between in-store and e-comm strategies. IKEA as an experience is designed to draw you to their stores, and while it provides some e-comm support, it is really designed to act the same as Ikea’s own showrooms. On the other hand, Toys”R”Us is an exclusively in-store strategy. It will be interesting to see what brand will be the first to try and provide a completely holistic AR experience. That said, this is very early days for the platform, and AR kits are in their infancy, and it may be some time before an experience comes out that grabs eyes the same way that Pokemon Go did.